As one of the more off-the-beaten-path destinations in Europe (and even in the Balkans) planning out the perfect Albania itinerary can seem a bit of a challenge. Figuring out where to go, what to see and how to get around when you only have 5 to 7 days in Albania can seem a bit overwhelming.
Albania is a beautiful country in the southeast of Europe with miles and miles of gorgeous Adriatic coastline to rival that of Croatia and Montenegro, vibrant cities that pulse with youthful energy and life and historic ruins with a fraction of the crowds that you’ll find in neighbouring Greece.
If you are considering a trip to Albania and don’t know where to start, then this itinerary is sure to be a help. In it, we outline a route so you can figure out how to spend five to seven days (or more!) exploring this gorgeous Balkan nation.
How Many Days in Albania?
Before mapping out the details of your route, you’re likely wondering how many days in Albania in order to see a lot of diverse places and also not feel rushed (or spend too much time in transit and not enough time in the destinations itself).
In general, plan to spend at the very least 5 days in Albania if you want to see more than just the capital. Ideally, you would want a week or more if you want to spend time in an array of different locations in the country.
Albania is not a large country, however, it can take a bit of time to get from one point to another so this is something to keep in mind when figuring out how many days to set aside for your itinerary. There are also a surprising amount of great places to visit that really deserve the time, so if you can, try to spend one week in Albania.
Even if you only have 5 days to spend, you will still be able to take in a great deal of sites and historic towns and cities in the centre of the country. While you may not have all the time to see the southern Adriatic coast or some of the ancient ruins the country has to offer, it’s enough time to get a good feel for the nation.
Getting To & Around Albania
If you plan to simply visit Albania as a stand-alone trip, then your best bet is to fly into Tirana’s international airport. There are quite a few connections to Tirana from destinations all over Europe, so it’s easy to get to from abroad.
Many travellers also head to Albania as part of a longer trip through the Balkans or Greece. If you’re coming from elsewhere in the Balkans. you can arrive to Albania via bus from Montenegro, North Macedonia or Kosovo. Most major cities in these areas have connections to Tirana and it can be a great continuation for your trip.
If you’re travelling to Albania from Greece, you can reach the country via ferry from Corfu or overland from the mainland. Regardless, it would make the most sense to do this route in reverse – beginning in Sarande and ending in Tirana.
Once in Albania, it can be tough to figure out how to get around. In the cities like Tirana, you can generally rely on your own two feet while there. And if you want to get around via public transport, this is definitely a viable option.
There is a robust bus network in Albania, however, it can be a bit of a challenge to navigate it and to figure out where there are connections. If you’re in doubt, always check with the reception at your accommodation – they will likely be able to set you in the right direction.
If you are adventurous and want to take the most control over your trip to Albania, then consider hiring a car.
Driving in Albania can be a bit chaotic and it’s best if you feel you are experienced, however, it can be worth it if you want to have the most freedom in your itinerary and want to venture even further off the beaten path. An Albania road trip is a great idea if you’re a confident driver!
5 to 7-Day Albania Itinerary
Day 1 – Tirana
The most logical starting point for any Albania trip is its capital city of Tirana. Located in the north centre of the country, spending a couple of days exploring this dynamic and chaotic city is essential whenever you travel to Albania.
Spend your first day seeing the highlights of Tirana. It’s a pretty compact city and most things are located within easy reach of one another, however, there is a lot packed into a small area. To learn more about the history of the city, consider joining a free walking tour or a paid walking tour of the city.
Begin in Skanderbeg Square, the main gathering point in the city. From there, you can visit the National History Museum and take in the imposing Et’hem Bej Mosque.
Those interested in Albania’s communist history will be interested in the House of Leaves Museum and, of course, you cannot miss a stroll along the pedestrianised Rruga Murat Toptani and exploring the Fortress of Justinian area.
Where to Stay in Tirana
Hotel Antigone – Centrally located in the heart of Tirana, this 3-star hotel has a range of rooms along with breakfast, room service and an on-site restaurant and bar.
Hotel Boutique Vila 135 – This luxury hotel in the centre of Tirana has amenities like breakfast, a restaurant/bar on site, parking included and an airport shuttle. There are several plush rooms on offer.
Trip’n Hostel – Offering both dorms and private rooms, this hostel is centrally located and has great common areas for guests to enjoy. A perfect option for budget and solo travellers.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Tirana hotels!
Day 2 – Tirana
Your second day should also be dedicated to digging deeper in Tirana and seeing more of what this city has to offer.
Spend some time at the Bunk’Art 2 Museum, a converted communist-era bunker turned history museum. Then, cross the river over the Tanner’s Bridge and take some time to explore the Blloku neighbourhood.
Here, you can take in iconic buildings like the Pyramid of Tirana (built as a museum dedicated to former dictator Enver Hoxha) and take in Mother Teresa Square or visit the Grand Park of Tirana. After taking in this area of the city, it’s time to get a great view.
Ride the cable car (known as the Dajti Express) to the top of Moun Dajti, a mountain overlooking the city. Here, there are plenty of fun activities, such as mini golf and rollerblading.
Day 3 – Durres
After a couple of days exploring Tirana, it’s time to move on and see some other areas of the country. Plan to spend the majority of your day in the coastal town of Durres, however, where you choose to spend the night is up to you.
Especially if you’re travelling around by a rental car, it can be easy to stop in Durres for the day and end in Berat to spend the night.
You could also do this if travelling by bus as the buses from Tirana to Berat stop in Durres, so it is on the way – if you are taking public transport, you will have to find storage for your luggage, which can be an inconvenience. You could also opt to spend the night in Durres and continue onto Berat first thing the next morning.
Durres is located only about 30 minutes drive and 45 minutes on the bus from Tirana. Once you’re there, the best activity is to simply take the time to lounge on the beautiful beach and enjoy the gorgeous Adriatic.
You can also take in historic sites – most notably the Durres Amphitheatre. This massive amphitheatre dates back to the 2nd century CE and is very impressive. History buffs will also love the Archaeological Museum, which houses artefacts from the Hellenistic, Greek and Roman periods.
Where to Stay in Berat
Hotel Bila Nino – This 3-star hotel in Berat has a number of comfortable rooms along with a garden, terrace and bar for guests to enjoy. There is also free parking on site.
Hotel Republika Berat – A good luxury option, this 4-star hotel is located in the centre of Berat. They have a range of rooms to choose from, private parking, an airport shuttle and breakfast each morning.
Berat Backpackers Hostel – Backpackers and budget travellers will love this highly-rated hostel. Located in an old house in central Berat, they have great common areas and both dorms and private rooms.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Berat hotels!
Day 4 – Berat
Day four of this itinerary for Albania is dedicated to exploring the historic town of Berat. Known as the “town of a thousand windows,” this medieval town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to Albania’s largest castle (the Berat Kala), there is a lot of history to take in here and it is absolutely beautiful.
Berat is known for its wide collection of beautifully preserved Ottoman-era houses that decorate the historic Mangalem quarter of the Old Town – this was the traditional Muslim area of the city. The other part of the old town – Gorica, located across the river – was the historic Christian quarter of Berat.
While in this beautiful city, take the time to wander around the old town and feel its living history. Of course, you cannot miss a hike up to the castle – which will provide excellent views of the city below. There is also a lovely, village-like atmosphere around the castle. There are walking tours available if you want to explore with a guide.
If you want to venture a bit outside the city centre, then there are also some wineries where you can sample some locally-made vintages or you can join a cooking class to learn more about traditional Albanian cuisine. You can also head out to the nearby Bogove Waterfall.
In the evening, you can’t miss a stroll along Boulevard Republika – the main pedestrianised thoroughfare in Berat. This provides excellent people-watching opportunities and an unrivalled energy.
Day 5 – Gjirokaster
If you’re seeing Albania in 5 days, this is the final day for you – and boy, is it a great one! Your destination for this day is the beautiful UNESCO-listed town of Gjirokaster. Located in the south of Albania, you’re going to need to have an early start to get here – especially if you’re taking the bus! Getting from Berat to Gjirokaster will take about 3 hours.
Known as the Stone City, Gjirokaster is an absolutely beautiful, historic city that should not be missed when you visit Albania. In modern times, it’s known as the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the former Albanian dictator, however, there is plenty of other history here as well.
Of course, no visit to Gjirokaster is complete without wandering around the medieval-era castle, which was originally constructed in the 13th Century. Also, make sure to take the time to stroll through the Old Bazaar, where you can browse through artisan shops and maybe pick up some interesting souvenirs from your trip.
While wandering around the old town, take in the historic, Ottoman-era stone houses – these historic homes are part of the reason that Gjirokaster is inscribed on the UNESCO list.
Where to Stay in Gjirokaster
Hotel Bebej Tradicional – This rustic 3-star hotel is located in the centre of historic Gjirokaster. They have several great rooms to choose from, free parking and a restaurant on the premises.
The Stone Sky Hotel – This lovely hotel has a range of comfortable rooms for guests to choose from. There is also breakfast each morning, free parking, 24-hour reception and a restaurant/bar.
Stone City Hostel – A great option for backpackers and solo visitors, this highly-rated hostel has a number of room types to choose from, great common areas and a kitchen and day trips are organised.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Gjirokaster hotels!
Day 6 – Sarande
If you’re seeing Albania in one week, then you don’t need to get as early a start as previous days – especially if you feel there is more to see in Gjirokaster! You can spend your morning here – perhaps visiting somewhere like the Cold War Tunnel Museum. This 800-metre tunnel was built as a bunker during communist times and has now been turned into a museum.
After a morning in Gjirokaster, you don’t have a long journey to the final destination of your Albania travel itinerary – Sarande, a city on the Albanian Riviera. This is one of Albania’s most popular coastal cities and it is only about 1-1.5 hours away from Gjirokaster – there are several buses that depart each day.
If you’re self-driving, consider making a detour to the famous Blue Eye – a gorgeous natural spring filled with crystal-clear water located in between Sarande and Gjirokaster.
Once you arrive in Sarande, take the time to stroll around the lovely seaside and take in the views of the gorgeous Ionian Sea.
There are plenty of beautiful beaches to lounge on along with a ruined castle to walk up to and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the sea. Plan to spend the rest of your time in Albania with Sarande as a base.
Where to Stay in Sarande
Hotel Kanes – This seaside hotel is great for visitors to Sarande. There are several rooms to choose from – many with sea views. There is a terrace to enjoy along with an airport shuttle and free parking.
Buzë Boutique Hotel – Located right on the beach, this trendy hotel has a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, a private beach area, a terrace and an on-site bar to enjoy a drink in the sunshine.
Saranda Backpackers – This waterfront hostel is a great option for budget travellers to Sarande. They have plenty of different rooms to choose from and great common areas.
Day 7 – Ksamil & Butrint
On your final day in the country, take a day trip from Sarande to the areas of Ksamil and Butrint National Park to the south of the city. Both areas are easily reached via bus from Sarande in about 30 – 40 minutes and buses leave frequently throughout the day.
Whether you’re driving yourself or taking the bus, start your day by visiting Butrint National Park, which is located furthest south on the route. This archaeological park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (there are so many in Albania!) and is filled with fascinating ancient Greek and Roman ruins that will really put into perspective just how old and how long people have inhabited this area of the world.
In the park, you can see ruins of ancient forums, amphitheatres and temples. Set along the backdrop of the Ionian Sea, it is truly a wonderful place to end your trip and visiting here is one of the best things to do in Albania.
After exploring the park, hop on the bus (or get back in the car) and head a bit north to Ksamil. This area is home to some of Albania’s best sandy beaches and it is the perfect place to lounge around in the gorgeous sunshine and swim. You can enjoy views of Corfu not far in the distance, along with seeing some of the picturesque Ksamil islands.
If you’re leaving Albania after this day, the quickest and easiest way is to fly out via the airport on nearby Corfu in Greece, which is easily reached via ferry in about 1.5-2 hours. Alternatively, you can continue on to mainland Greece via bus or car – the closest major city is Ioannina.
Have More Time?
There are lots of different options of places to visit in Albania if you have more time. For instance, if you’re coming from Montenegro or North Macedonia (or continuing on there from Albania), it can be worth spending some time in the north of the country.
The town of Shkoder in the north of the country is gorgeous and has a lovely location on the massive Lake Shkoder – sharing a border with Montenegro.
Those looking to get up in the mountains or who want to add some activity to their trip will love exploring the Albanian Alps in the northeast of the country. Particularly popular is the Valbona to Theth hike, a thru-hiking route that takes about 8 hours to complete from one village to another in some of Albania’s most beautiful national parks.
If you want to experience more of Albania’s coast, then it can be a great idea to add a stop in the lovely coastal city of Vlore in between visiting Berat and Gjirokaster.
Vlore has plenty of beautiful, sandy beaches and is considered to be one of the oldest cities in Albania. Make sure to take the time to stroll through the historic centre of the city while enjoying the vast seaside promenade.
Travelling in Albania is one of the most interesting, challenging and diverse places to head to in all of Europe. Retaining an off-the-beaten-path charm and boasting a broad and varied history, Albania is a destination that no visitor soon forgets.
Are you planning on visiting Albania? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!